(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "History And Human Relation"

OFFICIAL HISTORY: ITS PITFALLS AND CRITERIA
that all people do not possess. I am not an official
historian employed by the British or any other Foreign
Qffice; I am not limited by special obligations under
the Official Secrets Act in the communication of what
I do happen to know; and if I feel that I have anything
to write or say, I do not belong to that new class of
so-called " independent historians " who have first to
submit their scripts to the check or censorship of a
Foreign Office official.

Of all the principles which touch the life of States and
peoples it seems to me that the most important in the secular
sphere is the one which insists upon freedom of thought,
by which I mean of course freedom in the expression of
thought—freedom (supposing I am in a minority of
one) to attempt the task of converting the majority.
Under the shelter of this general principle, there will
exist (when the body politic is healthy) an independent
science of history, not hostile to the government but
standing over against it—a science which will seek to
present the cause of historical truth as distinct from the
things which might be promulgated from motives of
raison d'etat or for the sake of a public advantage or in
order to cover the imprudences of politicians and
government servants. Our predecessors recognised
perhaps better than we do, however, that such an in-
dependent science of history would always tend to find
the dice loaded against it for the time being; for it is
difficult for men to place truth above public advantage
when public advantage might mean the winning of a
war, the circumvention of a diplomatic crisis, the
covering of a reputation, or even an improvement in

183